Fort Refuge - Abuse Survivors Support Group

The Non-PD "Recycle Bin"

The Non-PD "Recycle Bin" is a collection of some of the most common reactions and responses to personality disordered behaviors that many of us have instinctively tried, sometimes over and over, but that have not been effective in most cases in helping improve our quality of life or the quality of life of those who have the personality disorder.

Abuse Amnesia

Abuse Amnesia is a form of denial in which a victim habitually "forgives and forgets" episodes of abuse when it would be more appropriate - and ultimately better for both parties - to hold them accountable for their own actions.

Amateur Diagnosis

An Amateur Diagnosis is when a non-qualified individual confronts someone whom they suspect suffers from a personality-disorder and shares this belief with them, usually in the hope that this revelation will help to improve the relationship or the situation.


Avoidance is the practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposure.

Circular Conversations

Circular Conversations are arguments which go on almost endlessly, repeating the same patterns with no real resolution.


A Codependency is a relationship in which an otherwise mentally-healthy person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected by an addiction or mental illness.

"Control-Me" Syndrome

"Control-Me" Syndrome describes a tendency that some people have to foster relationships with people who have a controlling narcissistic, antisocial or "acting-out" nature.


Denial is believing or imagining that some factual reality, circumstance, feeling or memory does not exist or did not happen. Non-PD Denial is cycles of particular types of denial that people who live with or are close to personality disordered people are prone to.


Enabling is a pattern of behavior often adopted by abuse victims which seeks to avoid confrontation and conflict by absorbing the abuse without challenging it or setting boundaries. The perpetrator of the abuse is thus "enabled" to continue their pattern of behavior.

Fix-It Syndrome

Fix-It Syndrome is when a non-personality-disordered individual frequently puts themselves in the position of a caretaker who is responsible for compensating for their personality-disordered loved-one's behaviors, cleaning up any messes created by their actions and fixing any problems arising from their mental health issues.


When a non-personality-disordered individual (Non-PD) begins imitating or emulating some of the disordered behavior of a loved one or family member with a personality disorder this is sometimes referred to as "getting fleas".

Intermittent Reinforcement

Intermittent Reinforcement is when rules, rewards or personal boundaries are handed out or enforced inconsistently and occasionally. This usually encourages another person to keep pushing until they get what they want from you without changing their own behavior.

Imposed Isolation

Isolation from friends, family and supportive communities is common among victims of abuse. Isolation is sometimes caused by an abusive person who does not want their victim to have close relationships with others who may challenge their behavior. Often, isolation is self-imposed by abuse victims, who out of a sense of shame or guilt, fear the judgment of others.

Lack of Boundaries

A lack of boundaries is often at the root of long-term abusive relationships. Lack of boundaries means the absence of rules, limits and guidelines for acceptable behavior. Inconsistent or intermittent reinforcement of consequences for inappropriate behavior is common among both abusers and abuse victims.

Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness is when a person begins to believe that they have no control over a situation, even when they do.


In 1961 and 1962, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram performed a famous series of experiments which demonstrated that about 2 out of 3 people will perform a cruel action towards another person if instructed to do so by someone whom they regard as an authority figure. This demonstrated that most people are prone to doing something they do not want to do, even something they would normally regard as "wrong", just because they are told to do it by an assertive or authoritative person.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Passive Aggressive behavior is the expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive, passive way (such as through procrastination and stubbornness).

Rescuer Syndrome

Rescuer Syndrome is when a non-personality-disordered individual mistakenly assumes that their own skills and qualities are adequate to cure or compensate for their personality-disordered loved-one's mental health issues, often disregarding medical or professional best-practice and attempts to cure the personality disorder through their own personal effort.

Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome is when a hostage, kidnap victim or abuse victim develops a sense of loyalty or co-operation towards their captor or abuser, disregarding the abuse or the danger and protecting or sustaining the perpetrator.

Thought Policing

Thought Policing is any process of trying to question, control, or unduly influence another persons thoughts or feelings.

The Non-PD "Toolbox"

The Non-PD "Toolbox" is a collection of ideas and responses to personality disordered behaviors that have worked well in most cases.

Personal Safety

Personal Safety is a list of actions that are designed to keep situations from escalating and to make sure that Physical, Emotional and Verbal abuse is avoided or stopped at the first moment it begins to happen. It contains lists of 1. When to stop the conversation, 2. When to leave the room and 3. When to call the police.


Boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for themselves what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around them and how they will respond when someone steps outside those limits.

The 51% Rule

The 51% Rule says that we need to consider our own needs just a little more that those of others in order to be able to help them effectively.

No Contact (NC)

Going "No Contact" means cutting off all forms of correspondence, communication and personal contact with a person who suffers from a personality disorder in order to protect yourself from recurring abuse.

Put Children First

Put Children First means making decisions based on "what is in the best interests of the children", regardless of the consequences for the parents and any other parties involved.

Situational Ethics

Situational Ethics is a philosophy which promotes the idea that, when dealing with a crisis, the end justifies the means and that a rigid interpretation of rules and laws can be temporarily set aside if a greater good or lesser evil is served by doing so. However, situational ethics can be dangerous when combined with the distorted, crisis-prone thinking of those who suffer from personality disorders.

The 3 "C's" Rule

The 3 "C's" rule is a reminder to victim's of abuse that "I didn't Cause it, I can't Cure it and I can't Control it.

The 50% Rule

The 50% Rule says that we are responsible for 50% of the things that happen in any relationship we share with a person who suffers from a personality disorder.

The Clean Up Rule

The Clean Up Rule says that everybody gets to clean up their own messes. It is a principal that encourages us to take responsibility for dealing with our own messes and leave other people to clean up theirs.

Leaving Checklist

The Leaving Checklist is a list of things to prepare and things to consider before, during and after separating from a person who suffers from a personality disorder.

My Stuff/Your Stuff

My Stuff/Your Stuff is a thought technique of reminding yourself to separate what is really your responsibility, your concern and under your control and what is a personality-disordered individual's responsibility, concern and under their control.

Time Out

A Time-Out is a decision to temporarily disengage from an argument, conversation, interpersonal situation or conflict.


Once they have learned to protect themselves and emotionally detach from the personality -disordered individuals in their lives, many Non-Personality Disordered Individuals (Non-PD's) find that they benefit from spending time with a good therapist where they can be encouraged, learn more about themselves and learn ways to work on themselves.

Get Support

It's important to find supportive people you can talk to on a regular basis who understand personality disorders and the the dynamics of being in a relationship with someone who suffers from a personality disorder.


Journaling is a technique of writing down whatever thoughts and feelings come to mind on a topic without taking a break, stopping to think or slowing down to correct spelling & punctuation.

Make Good Choices

Choices are the opportunities we have to change things for the better - or worse.

Work On Yourself

Work On Yourself means taking your energy, time and focus off of the personality-disordered individual in your life and restoring a more healthy balance where you spend an appropriate amount of time on improving your own situation, regardless of what the person who suffers from the personality disorder does.

Rules Of Relationships

Rules of Relationships are a series of ideas for non-personality-disordered individuals to consider when thinking about getting involved in romantic relationships.

Difficulties mastered are opportunities won.
~ Winston Churchill
This page was last updated on March 24th, 2012
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